Some Retailers Drop Mask Requirements for Vaccinated Customers

Some Retailers Drop Mask Requirements for Vaccinated Customers

New CDC Guidelines Prompt Changes

Target (TGT), CVS Health (CVS), and Starbucks (SBUX) are among the retailers lifting mask requirements for fully vaccinated customers. The policy shift comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new mask-wearing guidelines last week. The CDC said individuals who are fully vaccinated, meaning those who received their second shot of a two-dose vaccine or their single-dose vaccine two or more weeks ago, no longer need to wear masks inside stores and restaurants. The retailers are not lifting mask rules in towns and states which still require them indoors.

Other retailers which have already lifted mask requirements include Walmart (WMT), Costco (COST), Trader Joe’s, and Publix. Companies including Home Depot (HD), Gap (GPS), and Ulta Beauty (ULTA) will maintain their current mask policies as they monitor pandemic developments.

Critics Consider Risks of Lifting Mask Recommendations

The CDC has faced backlash for its decision to change mask-wearing guidelines. The CDC hopes that lifting mask requirements for vaccinated people will encourage more of the population to get the COVID vaccine. However, critics worry that people may not always be honest about their vaccination status. This could put children under age 12 and those who have not been inoculated at increased risk of contracting the virus.

As of this weekend, the CDC said 47% of the population in the US has received one dose of the vaccine and 37% are fully vaccinated. The retailers which changed their mask policies have not announced plans to verify that customers are vaccinated. Most will likely rely on an honor system.

Looking Ahead

Retailers are mixed when it comes to mask-wearing rules for employees. CVS is still mandating that employees wear masks while Target is not requiring fully vaccinated staff members to wear masks. Target is also giving employees paid time off to get the COVID-19 vaccination. Walmart is also allowing fully vaccinated employees to work without masks. The retailer is paying employees a $75 bonus if they get the vaccine.

As more Americans receive the vaccine and regulations ease, many will be eager to see how consumer habits and retail sales are impacted. Over the summer, it is likely that significant changes will take place for the retail industry, which has been battered by the pandemic.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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